Stress has often been associated with the development of a number of disorders, including depression, anxiety and hypertension. Now, a team of researchers from the Trinity College Dublin have discovered a connection between stress and the development of Alzheimer's disease.
According to the researchers, a hormone called corticotrophin is released when a person is under pressure or stress. These hormone triggers the production of chemical fragments called amyloid beta that clump together to form proteins known to cause memory loss in patients suffering from dementia.
During the study, the researchers found that lab mice that were exposed to more stress showed more of Alzheimer's related proteins in the brain that the control group of mice. The stressed mice also showed aggregated amyloid beta proteins in their brain, specific proteins that are known to play a major role in the development of the disease.
The researchers replicated the findings in human brain cells. The team treated the human brain cells with corticotrophin-releasing factor and discovered that an increase in the level of the amyloid proteins involved in Alzheimer’s.
Professor Todd Golde of the University of Florida believes that the study findings could be used to ward off the disease more easily than rectifying or modifying the gene that causes Alzheimer's. The team is now planning to develop an antibody that could be used to block the released stress hormone so that there is no formation of the Alzheimer's-causing proteins.
"Given the recent advances in clinical trials of anti-amyloid beta antibodies, we hope our findings may lead to improved and adjunctive forms of therapy for this devastating condition," said Dr Matthew Campbell of the university, in the press release.
World Alzheimer's Day is observed annually on Sept. 21. The day aims to raise awareness about the most common form of dementia. People suffering from Alzheimer's face problem with thinking, behavior and memory. According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 47 million people worldwide are affected by the disease, while someone develops the disease every 68 seconds.